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Planning ahead can save time and money

Do you know what you're having for dinner tonight? According to one study, many people don't start thinking about what they will have for dinner until 4 p.m.

With gasoline prices at an all-time high, this is a good time to look at your meal planning and grocery shopping habits.

You could save $26 per month by shopping once a week instead of four times a week, assuming the grocery store is 10 miles away and you have a car that gets 20 miles per gallon of gas. That's more than $300 a year! The best way to cut down on the number of trips you make to the grocery store is to plan your meals ahead of time. To get started, you'll need a sheet of paper and a pencil. Write "Menu" at the top. Next, go down the sheet of paper and list each day of the week. Below the days of the week, write "Grocery List." Now, think about your schedule for each day and decide what your main dish will be.

After you write down the main dish, list all the ingredients you'll need to buy and add these to your grocery list. If you're not sure whether you already have an item, write it down anyway and put a star in front of it.

Next, think about what you'll have with the main dish, and add items to your grocery list which need to be purchased, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Plan to purchase items for a few quick and easy meals which can be kept on hand, such as a box of pasta, a jar of spaghetti sauce, a dozen eggs, canned soup and frozen pizza whatever you enjoy that can be turned into a quick dinner. Add breakfast and lunch items to your list and don't forget beverages, like milk and juice.

After you finish your list, check to see if you already have the items you starred in your pantry, refrigerator or freezer. This is also a good time to check to see if you need to buy more canned and frozen fruits and vegetables to keep on hand. Spending 15 to 30 minutes once a week planning your meals can save you money anytime. By planning ahead, it's also likely that your family will eat healthier meals.



Web posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2005











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